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Advanced Preferences

The Advanced Preferences dialog is available from the Miscellaneous page of the Preferences. This is where various low level settings can be set including those relating to threading and the behaviour of various view types.

Analysis and Design Layers

You can look at two versions of a model: an analysis layer viewing elements and a design layer viewing members.


The image can be animated to produce an apparently continuous motion of the image in the Graphic View. The animation can be by bouncing the image between its deflected and undeflected positions or by stepping through a list of cases. The image can also be automatically rotated about the vertical (global Z) axis through the object point.

Annotating Diagrams and Contours

Diagrams and contours can be annotated with the values represented by the diagram or contour. The units and numeric format of the annotation is as specified via the Diagram settings or Contour settings dialog box, respectively.


The Axes page of the Labels and Display Methods dialog box is where various types of axes may be switched on for display in the current Graphic View. All axis sets are displayed as colour coded axes triads.

Case List

The case list for a Graphic view can be specified both in the Graphic settings dialog box and via the Lists toolbar. The full GSA list syntax is available when specifying the list.

Colour In Graphic Views

The overall colour of graphic views, such as whether colour or monochrome, or whether light or dark background, can be adjusted via the Graphic fonts and styles settings.

Contour Settings

The Contour Settings dialog box allows the parameters that govern the display of contours to be specified.


Algorithms exist in GSA to enable any scalar value to be contoured for 1D and 2D elements and nodes. Contours on nodes are displayed as balloons of varying diameters and colours. Contours on 1D elements are displayed as barrels of varying diameters and colours.

Current Grid

The current grid is a plane of grid points or grid lines that may be displayed in a Graphic view; it does not form part of the model but it may be used in conjunction with various sculpt commands to edit the model. Coordinates are reported with respect to current grid axes.

Cursor Modes in Graphic Views

There are various modes of operation of the cursor in graphic views. The following summarises the scope of these cursor modes.

Deformation Settings

The Deformation settings dialog box allows the parameters that govern the drawing of the deformed image to be specified.

Deformed Image

Translational and rotational displacements can be represented as both diagrams and contours. A further option is to display the image in its deformed state. In the deformed image the model is deformed at nodes and along elements by the translational displacement, magnified by a factor to result in a visible deformation.

Diagram Settings

The Diagram settings dialog box allows the parameters that govern the display of diagrams to be specified.


Diagrams can be drawn on the image to represent various input data and results. Typically diagrams are associated with nodes or elements; for example, reactions or bending moments. These diagrams are displayed only if the related node or element is drawn.

Display Methods

Display methods are the methods by which the various element types are displayed. For example, beam elements can be drawn as lines or solid sections, spring elements can be lines or coils, 2D elements can be outlines, filled, with or without thickness.

Display Methods

The Display Methods page of the Labels and Display Methods dialog box is where the form and colour of the various element types may be specified and where the drawing of unattached nodes may be specified.

Graphic Fonts and Styles

The Fonts and Styles dialog box allows the fonts and styles of Graphic View entities to be adjusted.

Graphic Views

Graphic views may be used to view a graphical representation of the structure. Apply labels to identify the entities that make up the model. Diagrams and contouring may be applied to gain an understanding of the model and its behaviour.

Highlight Coincident Elements

The Highlight coincident elements command highlights all elements found to have the same topologies as another, regardless of topology sequence.

Highlight Coincident Nodes

The Highlight Coincident Nodes command highlights all nodes found to be within the coincidence tolerance of another. The coincidence tolerance is defined in the Sculpt Preferences.

Highlighting Element Edges

Element edges can be highlighted using the Graphics > Display > Highlight edges menu command. The Highlight edges option is also available in the Graphic settings dialog box.

Identifying What Is To Be Drawn

The part of the model that is drawn in a Graphic view may be specified in two ways: by volumes and by lists. Both of these methods are extremely powerful ways of breaking down a large model into more manageable or more presentable chunks. The volume method is better for situations where the part or parts of the model that are to be included or excluded can conveniently be identified graphically; the list method makes use of the list syntax to identify the drawn part of the model.


Nodes and elements can have labels applied to them. Generally the node and element labels identify attributes of these such as node numbers, restraint conditions, element numbers, element axes etc.


The Nodes page of the Labels and Display Methods dialog box is where various types of node related labels may be switched on for display in the current Graphic View.

On Elements and Members

The Elements / members page of the Labels and display methods dialog box is where various types of element related labels may be switched on for display in the current Graphic view.

Polylines in Graphic Views

In GSA a polyline is a sequence of points in 3D space, which may optionally be specified in 2D, and which may optionally be related to a grid plane. There is a Polylines module in which polylines can be saved. There is also a current polyline which is displayed in graphic views when in the Polyline cursor mode.

Printing from Graphic Views

The graphic image may be printed by giving the File > Print (Ctrl+P) menu command. The printed image may be previewed by giving the File > Print preview menu command. Print and Print preview are also available on the Standard toolbar.

Regenerating the Image

The Graphics > Orientation > Regenerate (F5) menu command (also on the Orientation toolbar) regenerates and redraws the image without changing any parameters that specify the image.

Right-click Menus

Clicking the right mouse button when the cursor is in a Graphic view displays a floating menu. The commands offered in the floating menu depend on the current cursor mode and what the cursor was pointing at when the button was clicked. Some commands are always offered regardless of context other than it is a Graphic view that is current.

Scaling for Printed Output (and Changed Window Sizes)

There are various ways of specifying the structure scale, as discussed above. Broadly these fall into three categories: scaling to fit, by zooming and by specifying the scale explicitly. What happens to the scale when producing a printed graphical output or whenever the picture size changes depends on how the current scale was specified, as follows.

Scaling of Diagrams, Contours and Deformations

The scales at which diagrams, contour balloons and contour barrels are drawn and the magnification factor applied to displacements to arrive at a deformed image may be referred to as data scales.


Editing the model in a Graphic view is referred to as sculpting. Generally sculpting is done either by using the mouse directly on the image in one of the Sculpt geometry cursor modes or by executing a sculpt command on a selection set or polyline.

Shading Surfaces

The Shade surfaces command adjusts the shade of colour filled surfaces according to the current lighting settings. The incidence of the light on the surface, the brightness and the level of ambient light all effect the shading.

Shrinking Elements

Elements may be drawn shrunk by using the Graphics > Display > Shrink menu command. Shrink is also available on the Graphic Display toolbar.

Units, Numeric Format and Axes

The units, numeric format and axes may each be set for individual diagrams and contours via the Diagram Settings or Contour Settings dialog box, respectively.

Unwrap Graphics

The Unwrap option in graphic views projects the displayed structure onto the surface of a cylinder or cone and then unwraps the surface to produce a planar representation of the structure. The unwrapped image can be adorned with labels, diagrams, contours, annotation, and can be generally manipulated in the same way as the normal (wrapped) image.

Wizard: Graphic Settings

The Wizard: Graphic settings dialog box allows the parameters that govern the format and content of graphic views to be specified. All Graphic view settings can be specified either in this Graphic settings dialog box or in dialog boxes accessible from this.